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A potent mix of business and politics
John Cremer
update on Friday, November 25, 2011
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The Investment Banker

One thing that Dixon Kwong most liked about his BBA programme at the University of Hong Kong was that it wasn't just about business.

There were, of course, all the expected modules on economics, finance, accounting and the like, but his international business and global management curriculum also encompassed much more.

"For me, one of the most memorable courses was on politics - `Democracy and its critics'," says Kwong, who graduated this year and now works as a structured products trader for a leading investment bank. "My interest started when I was on an exchange in Boston in 2009, where I found myself arguing with friends about the value of democracy."

Forced to defend his view at the time - that results count most and that democracy doesn't always work - Kwong later began to question his own assumptions. Exposed to a whole new range of opinions, he wanted to understand more about what - besides money - makes the world go round.

Taking a politics option back in Hong Kong, he faced one immediate challenge.

"The atmosphere in a politics class is very different from that in a business or finance lecture. They were talking about things I had hardly heard of in my business majors, and the weekly tutorials were like a mini-debate."

It took some adjustment, but Kwong instinctively saw the value of exploring issues from different sides and not thinking that every situation can end with a "win-win" outcome. These lessons now help him deal with complexities and contrasting viewpoints in the world of banking.

"There are always two sides to the coin," he says. "Sometimes, one side matters more."

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